I want to state for the record that my criticism of the various golf announcers covering the U.S. Open does not extend to Sean McDonough, whom I worked with 30 years ago when he was still an undergrad at Syracuse University and was helping out with the Empire State Games.
But for the rest of those guys I have little more than bronx cheers.
As I write this, Dustin Johnson is on the verge of winning the 2010 U.S. Open and their handling of his ascension into the spotlight has been barely short of laughable.
I wasn’t even sure of his nationality until I went to the U.S. Open website. I watched most of the afternoon on Saturday, an extraordinary but occasional level of commitment to golf spectating that is predicated by things like Tiger or Phil being in the running, broadcast times, etc.
Unless I dozed off, it didn’t seem like the announcers told us much of anything of substance about him, other than constantly repeating the pithy assessment of Johnson’s caddy that attested to his unflappable nature. That repetition was annoying all by itself; besides, I never have to worry about who is or isn’t getting flapped out on the course, because we have Johnny Miller available to somberly notify us when anybody has actually choked.
I didn’t necessarily want an ABC Sports, Jim McKay style homily, but a few actual tidbits might have been nice, like his nationality, college, family stuff, etc. The only thing they did tell us was that he had won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am earlier in the year.
Oh, they did gush about how far he could crush the ball, but even that they bollixed up by offering little more than locker room hero worship blather. Besides, we could tell he was long by watching the balls zip down the fairway.
Indeed, in those instances they would really hit their stride as they cooed about savage drives that seemed to roll forever on hard fairways. They might have even provided us with some actual distances about how long those drives were; you know, measuring them in yards. I understand that concept has actually been dabbled with for quite some time in professional circles.
For much of the broadcast as Johnson’s remarkable day continued, the most they would offer would be the slyly equivocal suggestion that he just might be the next major star on the PGA Tour. I would have been more impressed if they had offered that a week before the Open rather than three days into it.
If it turns out that Johnson really does have the right stuff to go along with his being “stupid long,” which I believe was a sterling compliment offered by Tiger, then the feeble handling by the announcers on Saturday is even more egregious.
The other possibility is that his game is really well suited for Pebble Beach, where he has snagged a full 66 percent of his three tour wins. I’ve got a feeling he’s the real deal, what with being stupid long and all that alleged ice water in his veins and all, but we’ll know more tomorrow.
Which is why I am posting this on Sunday morning when I should be in church.
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